Identity and Defense (Isaiah 49:16)

Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms [of My hands];
Your walls are continually before Me.

Isaiah 49:16

This is one of my favorite verses. In context, God is speaking to Israel, but the verse spoke to me.

In context, God is promising Israel that He will never forget them and that He will be their protection. These same promises are made by Jesus Christ to Christians, so it is no stretch at all to cross-apply this verse.

First, the not forgetting part. The King James renders the verb is something that seems more appropriate and says I have graven thee upon the palms of [My] hands. But the word that means palms of the hands could also mean soles of the feet. Why is that so significant to me? Because Jesus’ hands and feet were pierced through when He was crucified for my sin. Because I am told that Jesus’ scars remain; that the disciples were able to see and touch the scars on Jesus. Even in Heaven; even in eternity yet to come, Jesus will bear the scars that saved me — even then, He will have my name graven in the palm of His hand or the sole of His foot. God will never forget me. And that is a beautiful reminder.

Second, the defense. I find the term amusing since God speaks of Israel’s walls being continually before Him. Walls are defensive in nature. When they work, they keep out the things we want kept out. God says, in essence, “Your protection is important enough that I always have it in mind.” In that, too, there is comfort. There is news that fellow believers are laying down their lives for their faith. Cities fall and armies fail to protect, but there are stories of believers singing hymns of praise before they are ushered into God’s presence. Clearly, God protected what was most important: their souls. And God’s promise is that He is ever vigilant to address the protection of His own.

Today, in the wake of receiving some difficult news yesterday, I am reminded that my name is engraved on my Savior; that He knows me; and that engraving my name is a permanent  state. If my name is engraved there once, it remains for all eternity. I am also reminded that God cares about my protection and defense. Not only from physical threats, but from the less visible and harder-to-defend-against threats as well — emotional damage and mental scars and spiritual warfare. My gates are continually before Him. He has named Himself my Defender. And there is great comfort in that.

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